The Day the House Entered Me

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June 18, 2018

Genesis 28:10-13; 16-17

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

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16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

CONSIDER THIS

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep,

I will forever remember the night I awoke from my sleep. It was my second year of law school as I made my “rounds” across the campus of the Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Shake the doors. Turn off any lights. Ward off skate boarders; the usual church security guard fare. I just wanted to get it done quickly and get back to SportsCenter. Little did I know, something would happen this night to change the course of my life.

I rounded the Education Building and made the turn to the Temple Complex (i.e. the Sanctuary). I grasped the handle on the large front door and gave it a brisk pull, expecting the predictable rattling sound of the secured deadbolt. Instead, for the first time in my career, the door pulled open. I don’t know why I didn’t simply lock it up and resume my duties. I don’t know why, but I decided to venture inside.

I walked down the center aisle of the majestic room, with its cavernous ceilings. As moonlight streamed in through the massive arched windows, and the sound of pure silence held the room, the impression of  the following words began to rise up within me—as if to awaken my soul.

“My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer.”

I spoke the words aloud.

“My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer.”

I felt compelled to proceed down the aisle, straight up to the altar, where I knelt and began to speak aloud…. to God…. and everything changed. I’d sat in this church (and others like it), ten thousand times before. It was my Bethel moment.

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

It was as though I stepped inside the wardrobe and came out in Lewis’s Narnia. I was no longer just in the house. The “House” had entered me.

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

All of this gins up a new and powerful obvious insight for me. It’s not so much that house of God is a house of prayer. Rather, the house of prayer is the house of God.

And the House of God can not be built by human hands. The house of God is the People of God. It is me. It is you. It is us. The great and yet unrealized gift of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is God does not dwell in temples built by human hands, but in his blood bought image bearers—the Body of Christ.

This “house of prayer” which is the “house of God” is the place of God’s activity, of the constancy of his ascending and descending, bringing Heaven to Earth and Earth to Heaven until the day of his return shall come when they can no longer be separated—for the glory of God will have covered the Earth as the waters cover the sea.

We have gone to church all these years, and still do. It is long past time for our appointed Bethel moment, when we wake from our sleep with the soul piercing epiphany—“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” And, of course, the “this place” I am referring to is my life and your life and our life together. This will be the beginning of a great awakening.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. You are not standing beside me but you are dwelling within me. Because of this, my life, yes my physical body, is your house. Forgive me for all the ways I have an continue to work against this; from my bodily habits to my life of prayer. I want to go with you fully, completely, unreservedly. come Holy Spirit and align me with the Kingdom purposes of the King of Kings. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Have you had a “Bethel” moment before? Consider sharing it with us.
  2. How do you reflect on this reversal of phrase– the house of God is not a house of prayer– but the house of prayer is the house of God? More than semantics here?
  3. What do you think it will take for an awakening of this sort and magnitude to spread?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I guess my moment was this past Saturday. I was killing time at the antique mall, which was unusually quiet for a Saturday, by flipping through a wholesale catalog thinking about ordering some seasonal items. I was in the part that contained the items with inspirational quotes–most of them the standard fare of over used snippets of Christian theology– when a new one leapt out at me: I do not fear the next chapter because I know the author. My response was this is true….

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